Can the use of eDNA shed light on vulnerable groundwater ecosystems? We put this question to the test in Western Australia
Stygofauna—aquatic invertebrates found all over the world in suitable aquifers—are typically regionally unique. In Western Australia (WA), they can be an important consideration in the regulatory process for environmental approvals of mining and energy projects.
We collaborated with an energy client, operating in a sensitive environment in northern WA, to enhance sampling methods for stygofauna as part of the client’s overall environmental management program, particularly their efforts to protect these diverse and important subterranean ecosystems.
Currently, stygofauna are sampled by hauling nets up a bore through the groundwater column. However, this sampling method can be unreliable. In collaboration with our client, together with support from Stantec’s Creativity and Innovation program, we’re working to develop environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis—water sampling for specific DNA traces—as an efficient, more accurate, and less invasive approach for detecting stygofauna.
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